Direct Engagement #1: Is Paris Burning?

One of the things that really changed my viewpoint on the film Paris is Burning was the realization, due to reading bell hooks's article "Is Paris Burning?" that the filmmaker was an odd presence in the process of making the film in comparison to the subjects being filmed. While I had seen the film before we watched it in class, I had never done much outside research on the who/what/when/where/how of the film itself.
I thought hooks was being a little ornery, at first, while I was reading her article. However, the moment that it was brought to my attention that this film was a white, middle (?) class lesbian filming (mostly) black/latino (presumably) gay men or transwomen (or other gender/sexuality minorities) I completely understood the anger I felt seething through hooks's article.
While it is certainly unfair to judge Livingston simply because she was different than the majority of the film (and if we were to legitimately judge her it would be a huge amount of hypocrisy) and assert that she is a privileged white girl using the black gay guys as props for her own academic (other) progression, I don't think it's at all unfair to assert that it was irresponsible of Livingston to make this film from such a position and not at least publicly recognize the discontinuity that arises between her social location and those of the individuals she's filming. Whenever there are such stark differences between groups and we are being subjected to the view of a singular filmmaker, we need to understand the dynamics of the relationships created by the film in order to be responsible viewers, and take away a responsible message from the film.
While I don't want to comment on the race position simply because I am in a position of racial privilege, I can sympathize with the notion put forward by hooks that, no, I don't want someone of a different gender or sexuality commenting on my own gender or sexuality without recognizing how we relate to each other as individuals using those lenses. As a transguy, I experience this frustration a lot--the assumption that I must be able to relate to all gender/sexuality minorities simply because I am one. No, not necessarily (and, in fact, a large minority of the time), and I don't want to have those discussions without a valid recognition of the vast differences between [you] and me.